Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) factories were forced to close down over the weekend after a computer virus crippled the company’s systems. As a major partner of Apple, Nvidia and Qualcomm among others, TSMC has warned that this could cause shipment delays which might impact this year’s iPhone and upcoming GeForce line of graphics cards.
The outbreak occurred on Friday 3rd August, affecting a number of systems including TSMC’s fab tools required for chip fabrication. The firm publicly disclosed the attack on Sunday, revealing that it had recovered 80 percent of its impacted tools and was on track to a full resolution by today.
“TSMC has been attacked by viruses before, but this is the first time a virus attack has affected our production lines,” chief financial officer Lora Ho told Bloomberg. She didn’t reveal just how much financial disruption the attack has caused on the company, but did add that the firm would reduce third quarter revenue by 3 percent, equal to $255 million, from its previous guidance.
All TSMC customers have been notified of the breach, with Apple and Nvidia assumed to be on the list, however the firm did not reveal specifics. It isn’t certain just how much damage the disturbance has caused to production timelines, but analysts seem hopeful that the iPhone in particular won’t suffer.
“Since TSMC indicated the delayed shipment from this incident will be recovered in the following quarter, we think there will be no meaningful impact on Apple’s new coming iPhone,” explains Fubon Research, predicting a delay of 1.5 million to 1.7 million next-generation A12 chips.
KGI concurred, stating in its notes that iPhone impact would be limited due to Apple’s groundwork for delays at the supply chain level. Apple “usually prepares for these incidents and manufactures surplus chipsets during the initial ramp-up stage.”
Apple, as well as other TSMC customers have yet to officially address the incident and how it affects their roadmap, if at all.
The chip manufacturer has reassured that the attack was due to a “misoperation” when installing software for one of its new tools rather than a malicious attempt at the firm, leaving confidential information firmly secure. Analysts are still calling for more clarity on the situation, however, considering TSMC’s description of the incident to be too vague even with data integrity supposedly intact.
KitGuru Says: That’s one staggering blunder if it managed to shut down operations, even just for a temporary period of time. I can’t imagine TSMC’s partners are particularly happy but it does seem that things are to get back on track in the following quarter.